Wednesday, September 4, 2013

An American LED Bulb?

Last week, I posted about GE's collaboration with Walmart for an American-made energy-efficient light bulb. It sparked quite a bit of heated discussion on Facebook (and rightly so). Reader Chris Bell commented that an LED bulb assembled in the USA is already on the market. When asked if he would write a review for me, he graciously agreed.

Common place today is worrying about electric bills. I personally hate sending money to the power company when it could be staying in my wallet, almost as much as I hate wasting anything period. So, I began a quest. What would be a good energy efficient light bulb to use as a replacement for all the incandescent bulbs in my house? Well, the government and every store seems to be pushing the compact florescent. You know, the squiggly little bulbs that have all but seemingly replaced any incandescent on the store shelf. Well, if you read the label on the box, as well as the EPA's site, you'll learn they contain mercury, as well as the label "Made in China."

With that said, I wanted something efficient, yet, non-toxic and American. That's not too much to ask, right? Well, seems that American innovation isn't dead just yet, because recently I did come across just this, and it's closer than you might think. A stroll down to Home Depot revealed that the American company Cree is now selling LED light bulbs that are "assembled in the U.S." with a portion of American materials and LEDs. This company has been in the lighting industry for the last couple decades, since 1987 to be exact, and just this March they released new LED light bulbs designed for the consumer market.

With an exclusive deal with the Home Depot, they are now selling 40- and 60-watt equivalent LED light bulbs that only use 6 and 9.5 watts, respectively. For those of you crunching the numbers out there, you'll realize that's even more efficient than the CFLs that use anywhere from 10-35 watts to make that kind of output. The best part is that, unlike most over LED bulbs on the market, these are actually very affordable. The 40-watt equivalent daylight bulb retails for only $9.97, and the 60-watt equivalent daylight bulb for only $12.97. And to make it a guarantee that you'll save money over time with these, they come the highest warranty in the industry too, a 10 year warranty. How's that for value?

So, with all the specs laid out, how do these actually measure up? Surprisingly, very well. The lights give off the exact mount of light that they claim, and the 2700K "Warm White" model looks identical in color to an incandescent bulb. For anyone that likes the whiter/bluer color, they do offer 5000K "Daylight" models as well for a little more. The only difference that may take some getting use to is that the very end of the bulb does not have bright spot. This is because the LEDs are wrapped around in a tower inside. Rest assured though, the light cast into the room is exactly the same regardless of the design. In some instances it actually looks brighter too. They are even coated with a safety coating of what seems to be silicone, which is much safer for any bulbs that are placed in fixtures up high.

So, with all things considered, while these bulbs are not 100% American made, they are the best choice on the market now for an energy efficient light bulb that is partially made here. Hopefully, sometime soon it will be made here entirely from start to finish. A great step in the right direction!

Thanks, Chris. You've definitely given me pause for thought about this issue with mercury. I'll have to check these light bulbs out sometime. Another thought: like GE, this is a case of a company exclusively selling their American-made product at a particular big box store. I wonder if these products could be competitive without that affiliation? 

Chris Bell is a former accountant that is passionate about American-made goods and services. He currently is attending Kent State University for a Bachelor's of Science in Nursing, and lives in Uniontown, OH.

(Photo courtesy of Chris Bell.)


  1. Its good to hear that America and other countries are leading the research in LED technology. As revealed through the post, LED technology is surely about to overcome other conventional light sources in the coming decades.